Submitted by Outdoor Afro Contributor, Terri Davis-Merchant, of the fun blog: Try Anything Once
Faux hiking? Oh yeah! I’m not really into outdoorsy stuff. Perhaps you’ve noticed that. I mean I guess I’m not really destined for it. Having grown up in a Black working class neighborhood in New York City in the 80’s and 90’s, sleeping in a tent in the cold with no bathroom wasn’t exactly what many considered a vacation. Just sayin’. Even Oprah noticed the lack o’ folks o’ color during her recent trip to Yosemite. (By the way, I love the name of that blog link, Outdoor Afro.) While Husband J grew up doing more outdoor related things than me, even he likes the comfort of a warm bed (hence, our stay at the El Tovar).
One of the most popular and challenging ways to see the Grand Canyon is to hike to the bottom of the canyon itself. It’s recommend that you do a two day hike with an overnight camp. If you do try to hike to the bottom in one day, make sure to carry more than enough food, water and plan accordingly for the day’s weather conditions. The temperature at the canyon bottom can easily reach over 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
During our full day in the Grand Canyon, we decided to see the western portion of the South Rim and make an attempt at a faux hike. Husband J and I walked to one of the bus shuttle stations for access to the western portion of the South Rim. You can’t drive to this area of the park. Only shuttle buses, walking and bikes are allowed. The bus shuttle stops off at scenic points along a prescribed route going west towards Hermit’s Rest
, a rest area.
I say that this was a faux hike because we really didn’t go to far off the beaten path. Even though we were on a walking trail, it was right next to the main road. You could always see the buses passing by through the trees. It’s not like we went off somewhere by ourselves. 🙂
Even if it wasn’t that far into the wilderness, there was a portion of the walking trail that did get a little rough and required some work.
There were several crazy steps along this portion of the walk. It kinda got a little hairy.
Here are some of the beautiful vistas that we saw along the way:
I actually got Husband J to take a picture of me. How about that?
Can you see the Colorado River?
After quite a bit of walking (and another hop onto the shuttle bus), we finally made it to Hermit’s Rest!
It’s really just a cute little rustic souvenir shop but still worth the effort. It was designed by Grand Canyon architect diva, Mary Colter.
By the way, you don’t have to do our faux hike. You can take the shuttle bus the entire way to Hermit’s Rest.
If you have a chance while you’re in the South Rim, take a trip to its western edge. It’s totally worth it!
Here is the previous post on the South Rim:
October 26, 2010 – Walking the Grand Canyon South Rim
Husband J and I decided to enjoy the Grand Canyon like most people do, by walking its rim. Now I should let you know that we spent time in the South Rim
, which is the most popular area of the park to visit. The North Rim
area is also available to visitors, but has a little less going on and is closed during the winter months beginning in November.
When we first got to our hotel, it was pouring down hurricane rain, so I couldn’t see the canyon at all. At first I refused to look until we got right up to the canyon’s edge. I even closed my eyes when we left our hotel so that I could have my own special “first look”. Pictures just don’t give you the impact of what the Grand Canyon is really like in person. I joked with Husband J that all that we were seeing just couldn’t be real. It couldn’t be. It’s that spectacular.
We set out from our hotel, the El Tovar, and literally walk less than 50 feet to the rim. I’ll talk more about the El Tovar and the great advantages to staying there in another post. Since we weren’t ready for a far-flung walk that day, we stayed pretty close to the hotel. I will say that the National Park Service has made walking the Grand Canyon Rim pretty easy for almost any visitor. There is a main paved walkway that provides great views, and you can take it almost the length of the South Rim.
For the adventurer, you can move off of the main walkway for an even closer look at edge.
That’s about as close to the edge as I was going to go!
The Trail of Time is also a part of the main walkway in this part of the park. Ever so often there were rock markers with their scientific names and geological ages. Science buffs take note!
I was still in my initial awe of the canyon and busy taking waaay too many pictures like this.
This portion of the South Rim happened to have a few shops that are their own historic structures. Verkamp’s Visitor Center has been around since the early 20th century (1905 to be exact) and is one of the oldest buildings surrounding the canyon. It started out as a curio (craft) shop and has become an integral part of the South Rim experience.
Verkamp’s floor actually has a nice time line showing major points in the history and development of the canyon as a park and tourist site. I learned quite a bit myself including the fact that our hotel was over a 100 years old.
Less than a hundred feet from our hotel is Hopi House, a wonderful example of Hopi architecture as interpreted by architect, Mary Colter. What’s most impressive about Ms. Colter is that she was one of the few female architects actively working in the West in the early 20th century. She designed six buildings within the Grand Canyon National Park. I’m going to give her a post-humous “You go, girl!” The purpose of Hopi House was to provide a place for the Hopi Tribe to sell their crafts and celebrate their culture within the park.
I wish I was more of a shopper and that we had more room in our apartment for these gorgeous pieces. Check the prices, though.
I will say that I am sad that we did not learn more about Native American culture on this trip. Arizona is home to over 250,000 Native Americans from 21 recognized tribes. At the same time, I’m going to cut myself some slack since this was really only a long weekend. 🙁
I’m not done with walking the canyon yet. Stay tuned for my pseudo-hiking!